Wheelchair ramp

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A wheelchair ramp in France

A wheelchair ramp is an inclined plane installed in addition to or instead of stairs. Ramps permit wheelchair users, as well as people pushing strollers, carts, or other wheeled objects, to more easily access a building.

A wheelchair ramp can be permanent, semi-permanent or portable. Permanent ramps are designed to be bolted or otherwise attached in place. Semi-permanent ramps rest on top of the ground or concrete pad and are commonly used for the short term. Permanent and semi-permanent ramps are usually of aluminum, concrete or wood. Aluminum ramps are more durable than wooden ramps and can be moved or reconfigured.[1] Portable ramps are usually aluminum and typically fold for ease of transport. Portable ramps are primarily intended for home and building use but can also be used with vans to load an unoccupied mobility device or to load an occupied mobility device when both the device and the passenger are easy to handle.

Ramps must be carefully designed in order to be useful. Many jurisdictions[citation needed] have established minimum widths and maximum slopes. A less steep rise can be easier for a wheelchair user to navigate, as well as safer in icy climates.

Wheelchair ramps (or other ways for wheelchair users to access a building, such as a wheelchair lift) are required in new construction for public accommodations in the United States by the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires a slope of no more than 1:12 for wheelchairs and scooters for business and public use. The ADA does not apply to residential construction.[2]

UKs guidelines as recommended by the DDA are a maximum of 1:12 for ramps (with exceptions for existing buildings) "Ramps should be as shallow as possible. The maximum permissible gradient is 1:12 [...], with the occasional exception in the case of short, steeper ramps when refitting existing buildings."[3]

In Hong Kong, wheelchair ramp may not exceed a 1:12 slope for wheelchairs except in some situations under the Barrier Free Access (BFA) terms.[4]


Most businesses need to meet ADA standards for their ramps. ADA requires a slope of no more than a 1:12 ratio, which works out to 1 foot of ramp for each inch of rise. For example, a 20 inch rise requires a minimum of 20 foot in length of ramp. Additionally, ADA limits the longest single span of ramp, prior to a rest or turn platform, to 30 feet.[5] Ramps can be as long as needed, but no single run of ramp can exceed 30 feet.

Residential Applications usually are not required to meet ADA standards (ADA is a commercial code). For Residential use, it is usually recommended not to exceed a 2:12 ratio, which works out to 1 foot of ramp for each 2 inches in rise. For example, a 20 inch rise should apply a 10 foot or longer ramp. The longer the ramp, the more gentle the slope should be, seeing as ramps are focused on maximum ease when traveling.

Vehicle ramps[edit]

Wheelchair accessible vehicles may also include a ramp to facilitate entry and exit. These may be built-in or portable designs. Most major automotive companies offer rebates for portable ramps and mobility access equipment for new vehicles.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wheelchair Ramp". HandicappedEquipment.org. 
  2. ^ "ADA Standards for Accessible Design (28 CFR Part 36)" (PDF). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Basingstoke and Deane - Designing for Accessibility" (PDF). Centre for Accessible Environments. Retrieved September 2004. 
  4. ^ "Design Manual - Barrier Free Access 2008, Chapter 4, Division 5 - Ramps" (PDF). Buildings Department, Hong Kong. Retrieved 2012-06-17. 
  5. ^ "ADA Specifications for Wheelchair use". Retrieved February 2012. 

External links[edit]